Postmodernism Lasting Impact on Graphic Design: Analytical Essay

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Introduction

Postmodernism is a design movement that rejects many of the tenets of modernism such as its philosophy of structure and form following function, postmodernism rejects much of this in favour of a more expressive ornate style of design with the use of humour and wit. Postmodernism also had a very experimental approach to aesthetics and often used techniques such as collage, experimental photography and distorted typography this movement started to have a major impact on graphic design in the 1980’s with the advent of movements such as New Wave and Punk. This new form of design dispensed with many conventions held at the time and embraced a more expressive and informal design philosophy while also dispensing with much of the formal structure laid out by earlier movements such as the modernists. While modernist design called for strict conventions these new forms defied many of the rules and abandoning earlier methodology in favour of more experimental design philosophies. While many designers at the time dismissed these new designers as upstarts and undisciplined and postmodernism as a fad that would soon disappear.

But despite these objections from much of the design community postmodernism started to pervade many parts of popular culture reaching its zenith in the 1990s. Poynor, Rick. No More Rules. (Laurence King Publishing, 2003), p. 11-18.

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Many modernist designers have criticised postmodernism as been dependant on modernism for many of its features but having none of the socially progressive ideals, instead they saw it as been aligned with consumerism and the dominant culture. Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. (Verso, 1991), p. 53-57.

In contrast to this postmodernist designers seen themselves as progressive and inclusive dispensing with the idea that there is a set way to do things and leaving themselves open to explore new avenues of design unfettered by strict constraints.

Postmodern graphic design has many traits that are in direct contrast to modernism these would include more expressive technics such as collage, experimental photography and the use of distorted typography. Another aspect would be the lack of an emphasis on functional design with many designs using hard to read un illegible typography. Hollis, Richard. Graphic Design A Concise History. (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1994), p. 186-195.

Premise of the essay

The premise of this essay will be to investigate postmodernisms effect on contemporary design and to investigate its lasting impact on the design landscape.

I will also be investigating the visual aesthetics and structure of postmodernist graphic designers and how this contrasts with contemporary examples of graphic design.

The main viewpoint of the essay will be to show the lasting impact postmodernism has had on graphic design.

Research Areas

My main areas of research will be the works of postmodernist designers such as William Longhauser, Edward Fella, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, April Greiman and show how their postmodernist approach to design has shaped contemporary graphic design. I will also be investigating how postmodernism blurs the lines between art and design as a more expressive medium than older schools of thought such as modernism.

Aynsley, Jeremy. Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design. (Mitchell Beazley, 1994), p. 197-215.

In this vein, I will be investigating the links between the decorative arts and graphic design. And will be exploring the blurring of these different disciplines in the modern design environment and how much of this is linked back to postmodern thinking. Bremner, Craig & Rodgers, Design Without Discipline. Design Issues. (2013)

Bibliography

  1. Poynor, Rick. No More Rules. United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing, 2003.
  2. Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. United Kingdom: Verso, 1991.
  3. Hollis, Richard. Graphic Design A Concise History. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1994.
  4. Davidson, Martin P. The Consumerist Manifesto. United Kingdom: Routledge, 1994.
  5. Meggs, Philip B. History of graphic design. United Kingdom: Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley & Sons, 2003.
  6. Bremner, Craig & Rodgers, Paul. (2013). Design Without Discipline. Design Issues. 29. 4-13. 10.1162/DESI_a_00217.
  7. Poynor, Rick. Design Without Boundaries: Visual Communication in Transition. United Kingdom: Booth-Clibborn, 2002.
  8. Aynsley, Jeremy. Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley, 2005.
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